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4 Gutsy Trade Secrets to Increase App Downloads

Building your app is just 30% of the entire lifecycle of your startup. It is, getting customers to use your app consistently that is the toughest part.

Three years back, if you had launched an app on the App Store, you would have had a better chance at traction than today, as there now more than two million apps across app stores.

The crowded market coupled with the fact that distribution remains the single biggest challenge for app entrepreneurs, makes attaining funding tricky. So much so that getting any investor love before you can show growth in user download and retention numbers is almost non-existent.

That said, there are many ways to get your app noticed through various forms of marketing — some paid and some that don’t cost money. In fact, you can refer to one of my earlier articles on 25 Creative Ways To Promote Your App For Free.

While these surely work, there are some additional trade secrets, so to speak, that only a few know of yet. So here are some of them that can help you gain that surge in download numbers.

Keep in mind, if these strategies don’t work for your app, you may want to take a relook at your app and see whether it genuinely is serving the needs of its target audience.

1. Temporary price drops. This assumes your app or game is available with a pay-to-download monetization model. In a recent Distimo analysis, they compared downloads and revenue data estimates for 12 games from the week of the promotion to the previous week without the price-drop promotion.

These 12 games augmented total global revenue of an average of 437 percent in the seven days during the price-drop promotion!

This strategy may not work for all apps and games, but it could work for your app or game if your users are loyal and couldn’t live without your app or game even for a day. If you are fortunate enough to have this bit of information about your users, be rest assured, these very same users will help your product go viral when you launch price-drop promotions.

2. Run out of marketing budget quickly. This may sound a bit gutsy, but it’s a fantastic growth hack. If you’re one of the few lucky ones who’ve managed to budget marketing spend for your mobile app, then consider this:

Typical marketing spends are spread out over a number of weeks or months. Consolidate this budget into a very short time frame. Depending on your overall marketing budget, spend all of the money within a day, a few days or at the most a week. Spread the advertising across all channels – Facebook, mobile advertising, you name it.

The more the concentrated the advertising, the more likely that you will get a sharp spike in downloads for your app in a very short time. This will help your app store ranking as one of the factors is download numbers and over a certain period of time.

Once you get to the top rankings in the app stores, this position will help get consistent download numbers. And who knows, this may even generate enough interest from Apple or Google to feature your app in the store, helping you gain users even after you’ve burnt your advertising spend.

3. Hack press coverage. Iliya Yordanov, founder of personal-finance app MoneyWiz has been successfully running his mobile startup, driving revenues upwards of the $1 million mark. When he launched his app on the app store, he thought contacting U.S. media and app review sites would get him the much needed publicity and get a spike in sales and downloads of his app.

Much to his dismay, none of the media sites got back in touch with him. He figured that U.S. journalists probably receive tons of releases, and it would just be almost impossible for an average Joe to get noticed.

So Iliya went on to hack press coverage by customizing his app for a few select foreign markets — Russia, Spain, Germany, Italy and France — and contacting the media in those countries. To the media in these countries, getting an email from an indie developer wasn’t as frequent as their counterpart in the US.

The response and coverage from the media in these countries got them the No. 1 finance app ranking on the App Store. This helped them get noticed in the U.S., and they started going up the ranks in the U.S. app store, which got Apple’s attention to feature them. And it then finally captured the fancy of the American media.

4. Growth-hack websites. There are many avenues for you to share the link to your app or Beta-signup landing page and get feedback from the community of developers and entrepreneurs. Take for instance Tyler Hayes, CEO of Prime who submitted a link to his landing page on Product Hunt, which got him over 900 unique visitors, five comments and over 50 signups.

A similar post in Hacker News got his company over 2,000 unique visitors. A similar story with Belle Beth Cooper’s Exist on Product Hunt got them 823 unique visitors with 4.53 percent conversion rate and Hacker News got them over 27,500 unique visitors with 0.26 percent conversion rate.

Here’s a detailed list of websites to submit your startup to.

This article was originally published in

photo credit: Tomer Arazy via photopin cc


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  1. okay what I am inserting here is a snippet direct from allen wong (app millionare). this guy has has three apps in the world’s top 10 apps apple store.

    people keep asking me what my super secret marketing strategy is to get my apps to #1. If I told you all, then you’d use the same strategy to compete against me! But, alright, I’ll tell you guys the big secret. It’s called…

    Word of mouth.

    A recent survey shows that 77% of the apps people download were found because of recommendations from their friends and family. And how do you get good word of mouth? By making an app that people will actually use and wows them. Make something that they want to show off to their friends. There’s a feature in my Jordan shoe app that lets you share on Twitter/Facebook the current market value of all the Jordans in your collection. Sneaker collectors love that feature. It’s the one thing that they show to their friends (how expensive their collection is). They love showing people what they accomplished.

    People love showing off, so make sure that what they’re showing off is your product. Simple as that.

    I have never spent any money on advertising, nor have I done any shady things like use bots or anything like that. So, the “trick” to it is actually not a trick at all. In fact, you shouldn’t be trying to trick your customers. You should be offering them something that they want, and in turn, they will reward you by telling their friends about the app.

    But how to get that initial word of mouth… that’s where my marketing strategy comes in. And I’ve disclosed these secrets in my book already. Other than that initial boost, my apps are fueled solely by word of mouth. I mean think about the apps that you have now. How many times have you downloaded an app simply because you heard your friends talking about it?

  2. anything specific for Indian market ??

  3. Thanks Alok. These are awesome! 🙂

  4. Hi Pranay,

    All of these can be followed in the Indian market. Except maybe the last one. I haven’t come across a similar website/product that caters specifically to the Indian market. 

    On the other hand, there are many people on these platforms from India too. So no harm giving it a shot! 

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